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    Review of ILIUM by Dan Simmons (see his website)

    Eos, July 2003

    In the not-too distant future, humanity is extinct. Post-humans have colonized the solar system but even they have changed or vanished. What they have left behind are semi-human Earth-dwellers who have forgotten all knowledge and live only for pleasure; a terraformed Mars where the battle of Troy is being replayed and where the Greek Gods squabble and urge the Greek and Trojan heros to greater killing and death; and an outer system (asteroid belt/Jupiter's moons) inhabited by intelligent self-aware androids.

    ILIUM weaves three separate story lines--a group of Earth-dwellers who dream of ascending to the sky, a twentieth century scholar brought back to life to chronicle the Trojan war, and a pair of androids who make their way from the Jovian moons to the Mars of Zeus and Hera.

    Author Dan Simmons writes a powerful and emotionally satisfying adventure. Initially the Trojan war sequences grab the reader and these remain the most action-packed and interesting of the three story lines, but the other two quickly become fascinating as well. Simmons offers a convincing view of a future earth torn by RNA terrorists, inhabited only by a remnant population of lotus-eating human descendents (and by a version of wily Odyseus), and of scientific Gods who share the original Olympian indifference to the fates of men and their joy in destruction. By the time scholar Hockenberry decides to wage a war on the Gods, I was ready to support him.

    Simmons' view of the future is dark, but tinged with hope--that humanity can prevail even though humans, as we know them, are virtually extinct. His writing is so strong that you truly care. Fans of classical literature (whether Homer, Shakespeare, or Proust) will also delight in the way that Simmons mixes in characters and devices from these authors--in ways that extend rather than distort the meanings of the original works. But then, if you aren't a fan of old-dead-authors, I think you'll still get a lot of enjoyment out of ILIUM.

    This one is a definite keeper.

    See more reviews of novels by Dan Simmons.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 11/21/03

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